Friday, February 26, 2010

Something new: "Have A Good Sandwich" in the spotlight

I'm contemplating starting a regular feature where I give props to one blog post per week that I find to be especially intelligent, funny, and/or memorable. My track record with keeping up with regular features is shaky at best. So I'll be mulling this over. But in the meantime... consider this to be the pilot post of such a feature.

The first blog in the Cusp of Normal spotlight is Have A Good Sandwich by Pittsburgher Mike Woycheck. I have known of Mike for many years, as he's the "butler" behind That's Church, formerly The Burgh Blog. However, it wasn't until he started following me on Twitter in the past month or two that we have gotten to know each other... at least as well as you can get to know someone through their tweets and blogs.

It hasn't taken me long to realize Mike is good people. Of course, anyone in Virginia Montanez' entourage has to be Very Good People.

On Monday, Mike published a very entertaining post about his young daughter's future career... as a coroner! It's both adorable and creepy. Please pay him and his crime scene a visit.

Thanks for being a pillar of the Pittsburgh social media family, Mike!

UPDATE: I should have also mentioned that Mike is the co-founder of Pittsburgh Bloggers, runs local T-shirt business Wear Pittsburgh, and has helped to organize Podcamp Pittsburgh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why do they call it a "turkey," anyhow?

Andrew and I are in a bowling league. (I know, I know...) I thought it would be a good way to force ourselves out of our hermit-like existence and allow us to spend some quality time with friends a few nights each month. (Yeah, we don't get out much in the winter.)

Some things I should have considered before joining our friend's league:
1. I hate bowling.
2. I am REALLY bad at bowling.
3. Rushing around after work in order to get to the bowling alley SUCKS.
4. The league is approximately 1 million weeks long. Seriously. It NEVER ends.
5. It is expensive. When the whole thing is said and done, we'll have spent about $500 on BOWLING. What. The. Ferret.
6. See #1.
7. Bowling alley food does not a dinner make.
8. Bowling shoes. Gross.
9. See #1.
10. My team has lost twice as many times as the other teams in the league.

Yesterday was easily the most painful night yet.

First, our bowling lane was apparently having some kind of mental breakdown because we would need to call an employee over after almost every frame because the pins would not re-rack themselves correctly.

Second, two of our teammates were on call for their jobs and kept getting paged/called, leaving us waiting ten minutes at a time for them to bowl their turn. (I am sure the team we bowled against was equally amused by this.)

Third, our sad malfunctioning lane was next to the lane of another league's team. This team was actually pretty hardcore. Matching t-shirts. Company sponsor. The whole shebang. That in itself isn't a bad thing. The bad thing was that they told my team off for "having no lane etiquette."

Okay, I'm the first to admit that no one ever taught me "the law of the lanes." Basic common sense has told me to wait for the bowler next to me to throw his ball before approaching to throw mine. But what I did not know is that it is considered rude to be anywhere on the lane at all when the bowler in the lane next to you is bowling. Even if you are extremely tiny and leaning against your ball return, waiting for your filthy 8-pounder to roll back to you. I mean, I don't even understand how he could have seen me out of the very corners of his peripheral vision. But he definitely DID see me. Because he gave me hateful eyes and said to me gruffly, "Would you mind stepping off the lane?"

I don't know how me standing six feet from him was impeding his bowling concentration, but I silently stepped off the lane.... as I mentally stuck out my tongue out at him.

Is there some kind of bowling cotillion I can sign up for? I don't want to disgrace myself with poor bowling manners ever again. I have far too much humility for such things. Should I hold out my pinky when I throw my ball? I have no idea what other bowling offenses I have committed.

And the final nail in the coffin was when one teammate who was on call had to actually leave the third (yes, THIRD!) game early when a work emergency arose. In order to figure out how to keep the game moving with her gone, we called over our friend Chris who is the bowling league commissioner. Chris was three sheets to the wind* and had no idea what he was doing as he pressed a clusterferret of buttons on the screen. Whatever he did resulted in two of our teammates being on their 8th frame while I had yet to bowl my third frame. And the other team? The other team had nary thrown a ball.

All of these factors contributed to us not getting home until almost 11 p.m. Oh, bowling night. Thank God there are only 73 more of you.

*Early yesterday morning, Chris swore he saw a ghost. In a bathrobe. At his inlaws' house, which his wife has sworn for years is haunted by ghosts who make much use of the pool table. Chris decided to get obliterated at the bowling alley so he would be drunk enough to fall asleep--instead of shaking in fear of the robed ghost all night long. True story.

Monday, February 22, 2010

New expletive of choice

This weekend, wanting to share with Twitter my disdain for my recent experience at the DMV, I typed "Grrrrr!" Except, my phone immediately changed this to "Ferret!" And you know what? In retrospect, I'm okay with that.

Here's to embracing "Ferret!" as the new F-word.

The Official Easter Ferret. Coming to a mall to terrify children near you.

Fun fact: Did you know that Pittsburgh is home to the Three Rivers Ferret Council?

You really can't make this stuff up. I wonder what goes on at a Ferret Council meeting? Weasel war dance, anyone?

Now, back to work...


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Look at Cusp of Normal!

Andrew has been wanting to create a new banner for my blog for quite some time. And tonight he hunkered down and made this darling little thing. What do you think?

Photo by Sandy Yetter with Red Lotus Photography.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lukey Gosselin

My mom and I took Luke to the vet on Friday for yet another blood and urine test. Yes, urine test. I had to take a sample with us to the visit. Which means I had to catch Luke's pee in a yogurt cup. I was not very confident about my pee catching abilities so I consulted Google. I read that I should tape a ruler or yard stick to the cup and stick it in beneath him mid-stream. I did. And it worked. Score.

I was praying that the vet would relieve me of my worries and tell me he's going to be fine with no long term damage from eating the raisins. And that's exactly what she told me. :D

Luke has been getting extra cuddles lately. And believe me, he's enjoying it.

But I think all the pampering is going to his head... what do you think?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wanting permission to stop worrying

Yesterday, Luke's follow-up blood work revealed that his creatinine levels continue to slowly rise. He was at 2.4 yesterday, up from 2.1 Sunday and 2.2 Monday. I wish someone would just tell me that I can stop worrying about him. Instead they told me to keep him drinking water, as he's dehydrated and that can be contributing to the rising creatinine level.

I found that mixing yogurt with his water will get him to lap it up with vigor. In fact, he drank so much so quickly that he immediately threw most of it back up. That's helpful, Luke. Thanks.

I had all of his records for the past three days sent to his regular vet for review. They are on the opposite end of the city so we haven't been able to make it there with all this freaking snow. But maybe she'll have some ideas about how to monitor him for the next week or two. Or even better, maybe she'll say the magic words... "He's going to be fine. Stop worrying." Ah, that would be music to my ears.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

He's home

We brought Luke home from the animal hospital this afternoon. His creatinine level was a little higher than normal, but not high enough to put him in danger. He will have one more blood test tomorrow as an outpatient. As long as that one is near the normal range, we should be home free.

He isn't himself right now. The past few days have obviously taken their toll on all of us. His collar was covered in a black tar substance when we picked him up. It took me a few minutes to realize it is the remnants of the activated charcoal they gave him on Sunday.

His collar and dog bed cover are in the washing machine. And he's getting some much needed rest in his favorite spot on the couch. Hopefully after the blood test tomorrow (if we can make it there... #snomg2), things will quickly get back to normal around here.

Andrew and I thank all of you for your prayers/good thoughts/crossed fingers and paws. And to those of you who donated to the Luke Recovery Fund, you are amazing. I'm taking down the donate button this evening, but all of the donations we have received in the past 24 hours are going towards the hefty bill for his hospitalization. We can't thank you enough. I am thinking about ways that I can express our thanks... so be on the lookout for that in the future.

Oh, and one more thing... Luke says "thank u" too...

Keep those fingers and paws crossed for good results following Luke's final blood work tomorrow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Please pray for Luke

Last night we left the house for ten minutes to pick up wings for the Super Bowl. We came home to find Luke had gotten into some bread that was wrapped up and sitting on the kitchen counter. The problem is, the bread had raisins in it. As soon as I made this realization, I lost it. Panic mode set in and I could barely use the computer to search for an emergency vet. We loaded Luke in the car, as I cried not knowing what would happen to my pup.

For those of you who don't know, raisins and grapes are very deadly to dogs. They cause kidney failure. It isn't known how many are a cause for concern, and each dog reacts differently. We guess that he ate about 20 raisins.

The emergency vet made us wait an hour and a half before seeing him. If that is how you triage a dog who ate what is essentially poison, I'm shocked. I was ready to seriously lose it on the receptionist for making us wait so long (the other dogs being seen were not critical, some had arthritis, some needed stitches but were stable.)

They decided to induce vomiting. Except he wouldn't bring anything up. We decided to admit him to the hospital so they could give him activated charcoal to try to move everything through his system as quickly as possible, as well as keep him on fluids and monitor his vitals.

I called for an update this morning and his vitals are still good and he passed the charcoal. Today is the scariest day because it takes about 24 hours for the raisins to affect his kidneys. I've never been more scared in my life. I can't lose my buddy. :(

They quoted us $1,500 to keep him for three days. That is money we don't have, folks. We're trying to come up with what we can--today I'm going to try to sell my wedding dress. It's for a good cause. I'm not sad about it.

Please pray for him.

I thought about this for a few hours today... putting up a donate button on my blog. I hate asking for money--I know everyone is struggling in one way or another right now. So, please do not feel in any way obligated to give. But if you do want to help, the button is below. $1,500 is on the conservative end of what it could cost to save our boy. If his kidney levels do go up today, a much more aggressive treatment is in order. And that? We might have to refuse if we can't pay for it. It will break my heart but we just don't have many options.

[Removed paypal link for security reasons, but a gigantic thank you to those of you who donated.]

Thank you,
Amanda & Andrew


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Laughing at myself

Today I am home sick. When I finally made it out of the bedroom and into the living room, I sat down at my desk to use my computer.

After a few minutes, I saw a man crawling through the bushes towards the window. So, I did the first thing that entered my mind. I hid. I leapt from the chair and cowered in the corner just to the right of the window. My heart was racing. I wondered if he had seen me. And THEN I realized something. He wasn't crawling towards the window. He was crawling towards our gas meter. He was just the meter man.

At least, I hoped he was the meter man. Because no sooner than I had my epiphany, I saw the same man walking to our front door.

You guys? I was so brave. I answered the door. But had he been ten minutes earlier, he wouldn't have been so lucky. Because I would have still been wearing my teddy bear robe. Which means, I still would have been hiding in that same corner, praying he wouldn't peer in through the windows to see if anyone was home.

What am I going to do when I'm a mother? I'm supposed to be the brave one. But no, I'll probably just tell my kids to hide under the bed with me when we hear a scary noise. I mean, if dad's not around. Because if dad is around, he's getting the baseball bat. (Right, Andrew?)